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Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) joins the outpouring of grief in South Africa and acrossthe globe in tributesto the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu, who passed on, on the 26 December 2021. Archbishop Tutu was a human rights defender, who sacrificed his life for others under the unjust apartheid regime and in the new democratic South Africa. He faced life threatening risks defending peace, reconciliation, justice, equality and for spreading acts of love in South Africa. His selfless love and care for the poor, afflicted and oppressed is founded on his positive thoughts, compassion, righteous lifestyle and inspired many in the world. South Africa is admired for raising men with rare virtues as those the Archbishop exuded. He was the people’s priest, moral compass, conscience and spiritual authority, the role model of the young, the masses, and revered in many communities beyond South Africa. He was able to rise independently and fearlessly above persecution, harassment, intimidation, inhuman indignity the apartheid regime subjected him daily. There were times he shed tears in reacting to the overwhelming ferocious environments of the dark era. These ranged from a monkey foetus hanged outside his front door, for preaching justice, peace and reconciliation on the pulpit. The Archbishop continued portraying uncompromised and unbiased justice to the people of South Africa in serving on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), one of the first democratically elected institutions. “I salute the Emeritus Archbishop for the sterling work he performed in leading this Commission”, said Richard Goldstone, Retired Judge of Constitutional Court The Goldstone Commission of Inquiry had ended with an outcome that paved way for the TRC process. It is unfortunate that little progress has been made to hold the suspects of the grave human rights violations accountable. The Archbishop’s passing reminds us of our responsibility for kindness and protection of the afflicted and aggrieved This includes reflection on the alienation and side-lining by the governing party taken against him for his pursuit of justice, peace and recondition. It is painful to reflect on the persecution from the ones that benefited so immensely from his virtues and ethical moral ground. We remain perplexed by South Africa’s rejection and withdrawal of a visa, to the Archbishop’s beloved friend, The Dalai Lama’s, a Spiritual Leader to enter South Africa. This came as a blow to the Archbishop for being denied the right to bring his dear friend for peace prayers in his home country, that was declining in human rights. The Dalai Lama is an exiled Tibetan living in India. It is regretful that South Africa preferred upholding a political and bilateral relationship over its human rights stance. The lessons drawn from this experience must not be repeated. It is important to embrace the resilience of the former President Nelson Mandala in promoting human dignity, solidarity and support for victims of oppression and human rights violations. He was bold in guaranteeing South Africa’s inclination to human rights and care of individuals, friends and survivors of persecutions unconditionally without any compromise. HURISA is looking forward to South Africa’s revival of human rights, justice, peace, reconciliation, and implementation of the TRC port. There should be no restriction imposed against those entering South Africa because of their struggle for freedom, good governance, human rights, accountability, and solidarity May His Precious Soul Rests in Everlasting Peace. In quoting a scriptural verse for comforting his bereaved wife Mama Leah, his children and all the mourners in South Africa and beyond: John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.


From HURISA Board of Directors, Executive Director & Staff


Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) condemns with contempt it deserves the mafia style and cold-blooded killing of Ms Babita Deokaran, on Monday morning 23 August 2021, outside her house after dropping her daughter at school. This is nothing but blatant impunity at the core of the society. Ms Deokaran held a high position as the Chief Director of Financial Accounting at the Gauteng Provincial Department of Health. This is where her role was so vital as a witness in the PPE corruption scandal under the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) investigation. We understand there are other witnesses who face life risk for shedding light that would hold corrupt officials accountable.

This is another cruel murder the citizens of this country witnessed on broad day light, during the Women’s Month. Her death is added among the list of virtuous women we lost in this country in a new human rights dispensation. The continuous assassination of law-abiding citizens in the country is historical and this barbaric act evidence a deep-seated culture of reprisals, assassins in our society same as in the dark era of apartheid.

In this atmosphere of marking the 25th Anniversary of our hard-earned Constitution and 27 years of human rights and democracy in South Africa, we see little steps made to protect citizens performing human rights duties. Performance of human rights duties in community, public or in private sphere, is recognised as a right by international human rights institutions.

South Africa Constitution guarantee individuals the right to life as non degorable in all times either in public or public sphere. South Africa is also bound by international and regional human rights instruments to protect the rights of citizens against reprisals, extra judicial killings, intimidation, and harassment for defending human rights. These instruments emphasise the significance of freedom of association and expression, which Ms Deokaran was deprived by her assailants to fulfil without fear of losing her life. South Africa’s maturing democracy need to results in ensuring free and safe environments for performing human rights.

The new environment recognises any person acting individually or in association with others promoting and protecting national, regional and international human rights as a Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). This is safeguarded in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society (UNDHRDs), adopted by the UN General Assembly, on 9 December 1998.

It places a duty on states to take necessary steps to ensure conducive environments for all persons under its jurisdiction, defending rights individually or in association with others. While the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) adopted Resolution 273 reiterating protection of HRDs performing human rights individually and in association with others. The Commission has also conducted a research study on the situation of Women Human Rights Defenders in Africa. Substantive recommendations are provided emphasising development of legal frameworks to enable safe environments for WHRDs conduct their human rights work fear. Whistle Blowers fulfils roles of HRDs and in this case Ms Deokaran sacrificed her life, as a loyal citizen that carried her public function with distinction and integrity as a WHRDs, by ensuring SIU is appraised with the necessary accurate evidence for prosecution of the suspects of the PPE corruption.

We are calling the government and law enforcement to uphold the national legal frameworks, (Protected Disclosure Act), including, international and regional human rights instruments ratified by South Africa ensuring safe environments for reporting corruption by all citizens, including public servants, CSOs from the grass roots, activists, journalists, unionists, lawyers, judges promote and protect human rights independently the country.

We are calling law enforcement to be diligence in turning South Africa ‘s current culture of impunity to safe communities,
•To contribute effectively in building a crime free society based on human rights.
•To combat all criminal syndicates that have found fertile ground in South Africa and make their crime drives lives intolerable.
•Not to leave any stone unturned in finding the whereabouts of all involved in the assassination of Ms Deokaran, including protecting potential individual (s) on the alleged hit list, to urgently account for their cruel and inhumane acts.
•Ensure prosecution of all suspects with no leniency given upon their heartless crime, including bail not be considered as well as harsh convictions and sentences be handed
•This must come to end, our country has had enough of the heinous and atrocious criminal acts: #Enoughis#isEnough #Fight Corruption, #ProtectHRDs, #EndPersecutionsWHRDs, #EndintimidationsHRDs, #End-ExtrajudicialKillingsof WHRDs.

9 August is a National Women’s Day in South Africa which leads to commemoration of the Women’s Month. The day is dedicated to honor the #1956 Women for partaking in a peaceful protest organized by the brave legendary women: Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, and Sophia Williams. The protest denounced the extension of the pass laws to women in South Africa. The pass laws subjected black people entering the white suburbs to torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The protest brought together over 20 000 women from diverse races that marched at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.This Women’s Month provides the opportunity to reflect on women’s achievements, their struggles, and the important role they play in the society.

South Africa is also paying a special tribute to 150 years of Charlotte Maxeke for her heroic roles as the first Black Woman Human Rights Defender (WHRDs) in South Africa. She fought the injustice of apartheid characterized by discrimination, inequality, and violence. Her legacy laid a good foundation for women’s rights to assembly, association, expression, as safeguarded in the Constitution. These rights are entrenched in international and regional human rights treatise promoting women’s rights binding South Africa. Since 2019, the government has made great strides in adopting several National Action Plans. These include, NAP Women Peace and Security, NAP on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and NSP on to Gender Based Violence – Femicide, which is a comprehensive framework supporting South Africa achieve “a violent free society protecting women and girls.

Just recently, Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) and Inequality Movement (IM) jointly documented the deep-seated challenges facing women impedes their full enjoyment of guaranteed rights. In 27 years of consolidated democracy and 25 years of constitutional dispensation, women and girls continue to live in environment below the minimum standards required for their safety, peace and security. Gender based violence is confirmed secondary pandemic in the country

•About 10 000 sexual offence cases, including rape, The SAPS fourth quarter crime statistics 2020/2021 reported.

•Every 3 hours a woman is murdered in South Africa and 2 695 women were murdered between 2019-2020 reported by the World Health .

•The LGBTIQ+ community fears that KwaZulu-Natal is becoming a hotspot for hate crime following the brutal death of Anele Bhengu (21) in June. These include Sphamandla Khoza, Nonhlalhla Hunene, Lindokuhle Mapu and Khulekani Gomazi who were all murdered in KZN this year.

•56% of positive COVID-19 cases are women according to Gauteng Department of Health’s Mpilo database (dated 6 March – 27 November 2020) published on 1 December 2020.

•53.5% female headed household are in rural areas according to the CGE 2020 Report. This means women continue to bear major responsibilities for unpaid household and care work, and so the time and labor burdens associated with lack of infrastructure fall heavily on them.

•Lack of accessible service delivery sites in rural areas and the cost of transportation to obtain documentation and apply for social grant remain a huge challenge. This includes the under-staffing and insufficient community facilities often located too far from communities. This is evident by the long queues at service points, backlog of clients and a slow grant disbursement process.

•The latest version of Traditional Courts Bill encroaches upon access to justice rights of women living in rural areas by denying them the option to choose besides the traditional courts adjudication with.

•Communication infrastructure and internet access can be delayed by the gender stereotypical comment you received by women community activists from the community complaints that wives can’t use smartphones or use a community network because WhatsApp is not good, they will cheat on them, and their families will be destroyed what did you do about it? According APCNew page 06 August 2020

Recommendations to the government and institutions responsible for enforcing women and girls’ rights:
•Accelerate efforts from policy to practical implementation of NSP on Gender Based Violence & Femicide. Including fast tracking the signing off the three GBV legislation for comprehensive implementation in communities to eliminate violent scourge directed at women and girls

•Adopt legislation protecting women living in rural areas enjoy their fundamental rights to access justice, health, information, internet. These should be aligned with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by South Africa

•Protect women and girls to live in safe and violent free environments regardless of their background, status, orientation, ensuring all vulnerable groups including LGBTIQ, migrants and not subjected to xenophobia and hate crimes.

•Implement all national action plans to address Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance launched in 2019 for transformation.

•Develop a law for protection of CSOs and community-based activists functioning as women human rights defenders to perform their roles without prejudice, stereotypes, and fear of reprisal, in the country especially in rural areas.

In conclusion, as we commemorate National Women’s Month, we encourage women to emulate the spirit of the 1956 legends Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, Sophia Williams and Charlotte Maxeke for setting a good foundation for protection of women and respecting their voices.

HURISA is launching the CSO CEDAW Shadow Report on 19 August 2021. Save the date for this launch which will be conducted virtually.

For More Information, contact us: 072 358 8611


Comments Off on Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) join the rest of the people ‘s of Africa in commemoration Africa Day on 25 May 2021.

The significance of Africa Day and celebration on 25 May 1963 is because of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, (OAU) the predecessor of the African Union. The objective of the OAU remain vital in the post colonisation period, to build the Africa we want based on unity, socio economic integration, freedom from wars and imperialism. During the 21st Ordinary Assembly of the AU held on 26 May 2013, the foundation of OAU observed 50 years that culminated in Agenda 2063 proposed for achievement of substantive goals in the next 50 years. Agenda 2063 is described as a blueprint action plan of the Continent and was adopted in 2015. The blueprint action plan encompasses economic development, poverty eradication within one generation, political integration, improvement in democracy and justice, consolidation of peace and security, strengthening cultural diversity, through an African Renaissance, and Pan-African ideals, gender equality, and political independence from foreign powers. The AU declared the year 2021 as the year of Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want. A Statement of His Excellency Amb Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs , Peace and Security, African Union Commission presented at the NGO Forum preceding the 68th Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s highlight the importance of the role of arts, culture and heritage in advancing our common vision sets in Agenda 2063, particularly for the realization of Aspiration 3 which stand for an Africa of Good Governance, respect for Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law and Aspiration 4 which stands for a peaceful and secured Africa as promoted by the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security. He also encouraged AU Member States to incorporate objectives of this theme in national frameworks.

We would like to find out the impact of AU Agenda 2063 and how the year 2021 theme contributes to the lived realities of citizens of the continent especially, in using Arts, Culture Heritage to improve the livelihoods in poor communities. The outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic and strict preventative measures have exacerbated living conditions in disadvantaged communities with no infrastructure developed for clean water, sanitation, adequate housing to prevent overcrowding, and maintain social distancing. Many African communities are endowed with minerals and natural resources. However, preservation of the Continent natural wealth is for the benefit of multinational corporations, regardless of AU policies promoting protection of peoples against foreign exploitation. The history of the struggle for human rights in South Africa resulted with a constitutional democracy gained through bloodshed sacrifices. Although it is hailed as the best in the world, majority of people are yet to realise the fruit of democracy. We are proud of the legacy of our heroes, Tata Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, and herons like Charlotte Maxeke whom the country has dedicated the year 2021, were brave to fight injustice, discrimination, women and safe democratic civic space. We need to continue raising voices for promotion and protection of human rights. This is the dividend of our heritage we should all benefit in South Africans, especially from disadvantaged communities. The fight against repressive policies, prohibition of freedom of association, assemble and expression contributed immensely in entrenching fundamental values in the constitution. As we commemorate Africa Day, the 2021 theme provide the opportunity to reflect on the impact of our history, including arts, culture and heritage, and how this rich heritage can be used to transform situations of citizens living in rural communities, informal settlements and townships.

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Hon. Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso – Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
Mr. Marcel Akpovo – Director of the Eastern Africa Regional Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR);
Mr. Andrew Chigovera, Chair, African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) Governing Council;
Ms. Corlett Letlojane – NGOs Forum Steering Committee
Distinguish representatives of NGOs;
Ladies and Gentlemen, All protocol observed.

It is an honour and indeed my pleasure to have been invited to deliver the opening statement on this special occasion. I am aware that the aims of this Forum is to consolidate collaboration between and among NGOs to enhance partnership with the African human rights mechanisms for the Africa we want as stipulated in the African Union Agenda 2063, and is being held this year on the theme “The Africa We Want: the Role of Arts, Culture And Heritage in the Realization of Human Rights And Democracy in a Post Covid-19 Environment”. I am particularly please, because this Theme is aligned with the African Union Theme of the year 2021 “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want” Ladies and Gentlemen, By declaring the year 2021 as the year of “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”, the AU is putting spotlight on the importance of Arts, Culture and Heritage and is calling all departments, AU 3 Organs and AU Member States to ensure that this theme is highlighted in their respective work, not just this year but forever. The AU is mindful of the role of arts, culture and heritage in advancing our common vision sets in Agenda 2063, particularly for the realization of Aspiration 3 which stand for an Africa of Good Governance, respect for Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law and Aspiration 4 which stands for a peaceful and secured Africa as promoted by the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Being called to share the role of our Pan-African organization, the African Union, in furthering the role of arts, culture and heritage in the realization of human rights and democracy in Africa, I wish to highlight that, it is often artists, experts and cultural professionals who point out the existence of a problem, who reveal uncomfortable truths, who reveal the unspoken, or who make the invisible visible. Using their artistic and cultural means, they create spaces for societal debate both within and outside the ordinary framework of political discourse and social networks.

In terms of cultural rights, all people have to enjoy the right to freedom of artistic expression and creation, which includes the right to freely attend and contribute to artistic expressions and creations, through individual or collective practice, the right to access the arts and the right to disseminate their expressions and creations. This implies the right to access, participate and contribute to cultural life. Indeed, this is strongly considered throughout many legal instrument of the African Union to ensure that Art, culture and Heritage plays a role in the realization of our continental Agenda 2063 in building the Africa we want. These instrument include, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance; the Revised AU Plan of Action on Cultural and Creative Industries, just to mention a few. In view of the foregoing, and in line with major regional, continental and international instruments including: the ECOWAS resolution on the return of illicitly trafficked cultural goods, and the UNESCO decision of July 2020, the 4 AU is engaged on combatting illicit trafficking in cultural goods. In this regard, the need to promote negotiations for the restitution of illegally trafficked and stolen cultural goods from the continent should be enhanced.

Ladies and Gentlemen, With regard to the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, The African Union has drafted a Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 response underpinned by coordination, collaboration, cooperation and communication and a Comprehensive Socio-Economic Response which are centred at developing appropriated approaches for human security, using cultural workers,

including musicians, film-makers, actors and writers as advocacy agents for good and inclusive health and wellness.Nelson Mandela said ones that “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” And our Humanity is printed in our African cultural value which is guided by the Ubuntu Philosophy ‘I AM because you are; You are because I Am.’ The promotion and protection of Cultural rights is our collective responsibility and together we can move things better I declared the NGO Forum opened and wish you all a fruitful deliberation.

I thank you for your attention

Comments Off on Amplifying voices, generating ownership: Consultations for the 2020 Peacebuilding Architecture Review with local women, other key national and local stakeholders

The year 2020 marks the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). It is also a critical opportunity for the African Continent to reflect on the progress made in implementation of the African Women’s Decade 2010-2020 declared by the African Union for advancing gender equality, acceleration of regional mechanisms, Beijing Platform of Action and AU Assembly Decisions on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE). The AU Member States also undertook to achieve full ratification and enforcements of the Maputo Protocol by 2015 and domestication by 2020. Furthermore, the AU has declared the year 2020 as a year of Silencing the Guns.

The significant of this year is also displayed in the coincidence with the 2020 Peacebuilding Architecture Review mandated by the 2016 Sustaining Peace Resolutions, which underscored the importance of investing in conflict prevention. It also coincides with the 5-year review of the Agenda 2030, and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. Thus, it provides an opportunity to reflect on concrete strategies for more integrative, inclusive, and cross-sectoral implementation of the WPS resolutions. However, this global momentum will have minimum impact if there is no meaningful participation of local civil society, in particular local women, in the policy discussions before, during and after the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325.

As part of the project “Amplifying voices, generating ownership: Consultations for the 2020 Peacebuilding Architecture Review with local women and other key national and local stakeholders”, supported by UN Women and the Government of Ireland, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) supported HURISA to conduct assessment interventions in communities through organized focus group discussions and key informant interview techniques to reach multi-stakeholders working on Women, Peace and Security. The assessment provided the opportunity to stakeholders working in peacebuilding to raise voices from the ground with a view of analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These ranged from implementation of women, peace and security resolutions, leadership roles played by women in responding to the crisis. As this time of radical uncertainty propelled most in learning new responses such as providing humanitarian aid, food parcels, making face masks as well as hygiene products to women, children, elderly, people with disabilities and refugees. Women also volunteered as essential service providers assisting in ensuring communities comply with the COVID-19 protocols. However, since their altruistic efforts are often undocumented or unvalued in both public and private sphere. It is based on this backdrop that the assessment presents this opportunity of acknowledging their continuous work in attaining sustainable peace regardless of circumstances. Lessons and strategies initiated to prevent conflict and contribute towards building safe societies and planning for post COVID-19 pandemic recoveries are vital on the outcome of the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325, the Peacebuilding Architecture Review, and 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. Read More

Comments Off on 67th Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights

On behalf of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa, I will like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to present my statement on the situations of human rights in Africa. Women and girls continue to be on the receiving ends, besides the existence of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol /the Protocol). Although we commend progress made in the ratification status of the Protocol by 42 States Parties and encourage States that are still behind with ratification to submit their instruments of ratification before end of the year 2020. This will give impetus to the AU and United Nations mechanisms advancing women’s rights, peace and security espoused in the African Women Decade 2010-2020 promoting gender equality, acceleration of regional mechanisms, to end wars, conflicts, genocide in the region. It is also encouraging that the AU themed the year 2020 as a year of Silencing the Guns to make peace effort realisable and sustainable in the continent. Furthermore, a commitment to achieve universal ratification and enforcements of the Maputo Protocol by 2015 and domestication in 2020 will end these heinous crimes which the Protocol Request States to consider as crimes against humanity, under Article 11 of the Protocol. Although South Africa is making progress in realisation of guaranteed rights in the Maputo Protocol through the judiciary to advance women remedies enshrined in the Protocol, there is still more work to be done by the government. In 2016 after examination of South Africa periodic report the African Commission recommended South Africa to outlaw traditional practice of Ukuthwala as it forces women and girls into marriages regardless of age, through abductions, constituting torture, inhuman and degrading treatments. Human trafficking remain high in South Africa and abduction of women and children found dumped in rubbish places brutally murdered, gender-based violence & femicide have increased, especially in the context of COVID-19 mitigation. These measures missed the opportunity to instil the AU non-violent measures to solve problems, particularly in women taking their frustrations in the streets to protests against law enforcement failure to address these hideous crimes. It has also come to our attention that while efforts are made to improve submission record of South Africa’s periodic reports on African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, little is done to fast-track development of Part B of the report which constitute a section elaborating progress made to implement Maputo Protocol. Women face many challenges despite living in a non-conflict country. Statistics indicates that more guns are owned by civilians than by the state so in most cases partners are using guns to intimidate, control, hurt and kill women and children. From the government’s side they have never been adequate budget allocated to the WPS agenda. South Africa condemns gender-based violence and femicide, but there are no resources to match the articulations and the condemnations of these atrocious acts against women. There’s also an emergence of targeting women human rights defenders in promoting human rights protection in the mining communities. These have manifested in extra judicial killings, death threats of leaders of community based organisations and activists working in this areas.

In terms of women roles in peace process, women have been pushing for the effective implementation of National Strategic Plan on GBVF. Regarding this, there are three bills considered with stringent provisions for successful prosecutions of the perpetrators of GBVF. COSs advocated cabinet to adopt the NAP 1325. The delay in passing the NAP by cabinet means there’s no concrete plan to combat crimes that impedes achievement of women peace and security.

We call upon the Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights through its special mandate holder of the SR on the Rights of Women in Africa to urge the AU state to do the following:

•To domesticate Maputo Protocol, and those that have not yet ratify the Protocol to fast-track efforts for ratification in 2020.
•Withdrawal of reservations made during ratification of the Protocol and fast-track development and submission of outstanding periodic reports demonstrating progress made to give effect to Maputo Protocol.
•To collaborate with the office of the Special Envoy of the Chairperson of the African Union on Women Peace and Security to assess the impact of the AU African Women Decade, especially in conflict and post conflict countries, giving priority to women living in vulnerable communities, rural areas, minority groups, refugees/ migrants, trafficking of women and girls and develop recommendations to sustain peace and security in the region.
•To consider adopting a resolution for development of General Comment on Article 10&11 of Maputo Protocol, to assist State Parties with extensive elaboration for implementation and sustaining peace in the region.
•To reinvigorate efforts to achieve gender equality, end wars, conflict, genocide, gender-based violence / femicide, involvement of women in peace negotiation, construction and mediation through development of NAP within the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 auspices, and availing budgets for addressing these crimes that are clearly constituting crimes against humanity.
•To the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa and focal points on reprisals, continue to encourage State Parties develop laws for promotion and protection of women organisations, including community based organisations and human rights defenders to promote and protect rights without fear and intimidation of reprisals in line with ACHPR resolutions 275 adopted in 2014.
•To urge state parties to promote and protect the right to life by prioritising investigation of the perpetrators of the extrajudicial killings.
•We also call the Chairperson of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human to encourage State Parties to find amicable solutions in conflict between mining companies, CSOs, CBO activists, environmentalists & women human rights defenders in protecting extraction of natural resources.

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Comments Off on Africa Human Rights Day – 25 MAY 2020

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) statement presented at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) for the commemoration of Africa Day. PAP hosted a virtual “Meeting with Civil Society” themed: Reflections on the African Union Agenda 2063 and Silencing the Guns.

Brief introduction to Africa Day

On 25 May 1963 the African Union (AU), formerly the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), was established as the apex regional intergovernmental body. This continental body consists of the 55 Member States that make up the African continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the OAU, 1963 – 1999.

HURISA statement presented at PAP on 25 May 2020

Thank you to the Moderator Mr, Don Deya, CEO of the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) and the Mistress of Ceremonies Mrs. Lyn Chiwandamira, Senior International Relations Officer, Pan-African Parliament –

•Honourable Bouras Djamel, Acting President of the Pan-African Parliament;
•Honourable Chief Fortune Charumbira, Vice- President of the Pan-African Parliament;
•Honourable Admore Kambudzi, Acting Director of the Peace and Security Department of African Union;
•Honourable Commissioner, Dr Solomon Dersso, Chairperson of the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights;
•Honourable Members of Pan African Parliament;
•Distinguished State Delegates, Dignitaries;
•Development & Cooperation Partners;
•Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, all protocol duly observed.

It is my singular honour and privilege to speak at this august virtual meeting convened by the Pan African Parliament for the commemoration of Africa Day. Let me first extend my gratitude to Hon. Bouras Djamel, the Acting President of the Pan-African Parliament, for creating this opportunity for PAP engagement with the people of Africa. PAP is the voice of the people of Africa and we appreciate you bringing the parliament to the people of Africa on this occasion. My name is Corlett Letlojane, I am wearing two hats at this platform. One is speaking as the PAP CSO Forum Chairperson and the other as the Executive Director of Human Rights Institute of South Africa.

The significance of this day reminds us of the strides achieved by our forefathers in establishing the AU (formerly OAU). We admire the founding principles entrenched for promoting Pan Africanism, unity, solidarity, cohesion and cooperation between the people of Africa and the African States. If there’s anything that COVID-19 has done in our nations besides devastating our lives, especially the needy, it is that it is changing attitudes of people across the world. Chief Justice Mogoeng has put it well by stating “the lockdown has given us an opportunity to reflect on how materialistic we are at times and how much the need is out there, the need that must not be theorised, or intellectualised, but a need that cries out for practical steps to be taken by each citizen to share”. This resonates with the AU Founding principles and the need to cultivate positive responses for curbing COVID-19 in Africa. This unprecedented crisis has turned people’s lives upside down and stripped off what seemed to be normal for the poor, the middle class and the rich.

The Social Impact of COVID-19

As for the poor, COVID-19 regulations have devastating impact on them because of the vulnerable lived realities they endured for many generations. This is in spite of most constitutions safeguarding the individual’s right to life, to live in a clean and safe environment, and to their health and well-being. Governments are obliged to ensure citizens enjoy these basic fundamental rights. However, many Africans still yearn for freedom despite many decades of the continent’s liberation from colonisation and the 25 years since apartheid. There’s a need to restore the human dignity of the people of Africa through the realisation of African mechanisms, making democratic institutions effective, and upholding the rule of law and human rights. COVID-19 provides a unique opportunity to take stock of the negative impacts of bad governance on the people’s struggle for land, as most Africans occupy land with no infrastructure developed for safe water and sanitation. And, importantly, the occupants of these lands often have no title deeds. There is considerable valuable academic research studies and recommendations for improving the living conditions in Africa. There are also existing mechanisms to overcome the housing and land issues facing Africans on the continent. But millions of people continue living in backyards and squatter camps as shacks dwellers on the African continent . This means we still have a long way to go to address the appalling living conditions in Africa and we need leaders that will change this situation .

Most African constitutions safeguarded the universality of the right to adequate housing. We need to improve Africa’s living conditions to sustainably put an end to overcrowding, informal settlements and squalid slums. These conditions pose life-threatening health risks to people and also make it hard for people to adhere to COVID-19 prevention protocols, including washing of hands with safe water and soap and ensuring social distancing. COVID-19 is challenging leaders to do more to deliver land and dignified housing to Africans. This can be achieved through accelerated implementation of AU mechanisms such as the AU Programme for Infrastructure Development Action. It will make universal access possible for safe water, sanitation, electricity, health centres, schools and roads in Africa. The AU Agenda 2063 is Africa’s vision to end health risks to ensure a safe and secure continent . It should change the lives of over 200 million African people who occupy land which is not surveyed or proclaimed for residential purposes .

In South Africa, when the army was deployed to assist the police to maintain law and order, the budget of R641 million was increased to R4.9 billion after adding 73,000 military personnel to assist the police. If there was similar government surges to address equally important human crises like corruption, poor service delivery, housing, land, water and sanitation, there could be vast progress to curb the systemic gaps. Instead, innocent lives were lost from excessive police force, torture, evictions, shack demolitions, riots, murder, assault, harassment, and arbitrary arrests. This contrasts starkly with the peoples’ expectations that a deployment of the army would not undermine fundamental rights but help the government to save lives. Africa needs to raise leaders that will remember their commitment to uplift the lives of people. Every effort should be made to popularise the AU campaign for 2020, Silencing the Guns, with plans to reduce states’ enormous budgets for the purchase of military equipment.

Although resources have also been provided for assisting the needy with humanitarian aid, the suffering has increased as help is not reaching those who qualify for it. Many stand on the side of roads begging for food. Funds contributed by various sources towards Solidarity funds seem inadequate to cover millions of families.

The response to COVID-19 has also exposed the disproportionate gender-based violence, loss of livelihoods and rising poverty levels as many in vulnerable communities have lost jobs. There’s no policy considered for domestic workers, informal traders and recycling waste pickers to be part of unemployment insurance fund Undocumented migrants and refugees as vulnerable groups have also been impacted, as a number of repatriations and deportations were enforced by South Africa and Botswana. It was only some two weeks ago that measures were put in place to support the needy with a relief grant.

The other sector facing challenges is the essential service providers who are on the frontline of curbing COVID-19, especially in health care. It seems their lives are being put at risk because of inadequate PPE. This has resulted in frontline workers engaging in protests and neglecting people affected by COVID19.

The Role of civil society efforts in curbing COVID-19
CSOs have continued playing important roles in communities through awareness-raising and education campaigns, increasing knowledge and the prevention of COVID-19. There have been significant adjustments, diversified programmes and approaches to enable CSOs to function effectively in the new COVID-19 environment. New pathways have been identified, such as: collaborations, fostering relations with humanitarian aid organisations; obtaining accreditation to serve as volunteers and essential service providers on the ground to reach the needy and vulnerable communities.

Our organisations produced simplified materials to help communities, especially based in far remote areas, including township and vulnerable communities, to understand the legal framework implemented to curb COVID-19 and how to play roles at municipal level. Research studies have been conducted on human rights and the impact of COVID-19. Networking with a view to monitoring the promotion of human rights and Human Rights Documentation Handling was also implemented with partners across South African provinces.

Research studies, publications and media platforms have also been rolled out at the SADC level to analyse whether the space for human rights was enhanced or diminished by measures to control the spread of COVID-19. Moreover, there has been sustained advocacy for promoting the use of regional human rights bodies, and support for drafting petitions against reprisals, abductions, torture, and discrimination during the COVID-19 era. Products of these activities are accessible on our website and social media platforms.

Strengthening PAP mechanisms for innovative engagements & CSOs partnership

The PAP Rules of Procedure place PAP in a unique position to engage in vibrant initiatives with civil society. It also elaborates special powers and procedures for PAP participation in awareness-raising, which is an area with huge gaps where CSOs and PAP can map out ways of engaging effectively. Very few CSOs understand the PAP mechanism, including its procedures, how to access Committees, and how to contribute to the deliberation pertinent to human rights. However, CSOs have the knowhow for accessing both national and regional core expertise, stakeholders and networks working on diverse issues corresponding to PAP work. CSOs are available and willing to enhance PAP’s effectiveness by providing resources, technical assistance for impacting initiatives for various stakeholders, and platforms based within remote communities. COVID-19 offers States and non-state actors an opportunity to review progress in effecting the AU frameworks established decades ago for collaborations in Africa.

The promotion of human and people’s rights is another important role of PAP where synergies can be tapped with CSOs. CSOs can offer solutions for PAP to create cultures of respect for human rights, including social cohesion, unity and solidarity on the Continent. Furthermore, considering that corruption is one of the root causes of conflict on the continent, Article 72 of the PAP Rules of procedure provides PAP the opportunity to increase its visibility to help in overcoming this challenge through consolidation of democratic institutions, democratic culture, and good governance. PAP also has creative models for effective functioning that include the establishment of ten (10) permanent PAP Committees to work on various issues for advancement of democracy, human rights and the rule of law on the continent. The Committees on Justice and Human Rights; on Health, Labour and Social Affairs; on Gender, Family, Youths, and People with Disability; among other committees are important to respond to COVID-19 and should work hand-in-hand with CSOs.

Rule 23 provides PAP with the power to receive evidence, hold public hearings, call witnesses, and permits any organ of the AU as well as other persons outside PAP to attend and speak at its proceedings. CSOs can also lodge Petitions to PAP’s attention on the various human rights problems to be considered. This is an important process that will enhance similar processes applied by other human rights bodies in the region to systematically address in collaboration and complementarity with other AU Organs. The opportunity for PAP to complement the work of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and Expert on the Rights and Welfare of the Child is clear. We recognize the presence of the Chairperson of ACHPR in this meeting and encourage PAP to do more on this aspect of complementarity of AU Organs. Although, we have to bear in mind possible conflicts with meeting timeframes of AU Organs that might make this hard to actualise. Encouraging CSOs’ submission of shadow reports, such as practiced by the ACHPR after presentations of the States reports, will further enhance advocacy for compliance with Concluding Observations, ratification, domestication and implementation of AU human rights instruments for change in the region.

Honorable Members of PAP offered responses to HURISA intervention and the following were discussed.

1.Freedom of expression and information must be upheld, especially the dissemination of information relating to curbing COVID-19.
2.People’s voices should participate in the law making and decision making for development of adequate laws to curb COVID-19.
3.Need for one continental legislation to curb COVID-19.
4.The lockdown, humanitarian aid, as well as education should be seen to represent people’s views.
5.COVID-19 changes should encourage PAP’s move towards new technology in meeting online and advancement of social media.
6.COVID-19 has taught us many lessons, especially in its exposure of poverty, lack of land ownership, housing, inequality, the plight of vulnerable communities which need to be addressed for provision of safe livelihoods, to save lives, and responsibility to adhere to protocols.
7.There’s a need for Continental Research to be conducted on Informal traders and workers who need sustainable solutions.
8.Clear targets should be set indicating impact where the majority live.
9.Capacity building training for CSO stakeholders’ participation in PAP initiatives.
10.Unity should be Africa’s strength and encouraged practice.
11.Transparency in respect of resource mobilization, especially regarding funding from the World Bank, IMF and effective monitoring and distribution of resources to prevent corruption.
12.Promotion of Citizens rights enshrined in Constitutions, and scrutiny of law and policies, while also monitoring laws that impede the freedom of movement.

National Women’s Month

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In South Africa, the 9th of August is Women’s Day and the month of August is National Women’s Month. On 9 August 1956, more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. They protested against the extension of Pass Laws enforced on women in South Africa.

This month should not just be a National Women’s Month but a claim for Women’s Right that has been jeopardized by the increase in gender-based violence and femicide.

It is devastating to document the increase in gender-based violence and femicide, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. The COVID -19 crisis has exacerbated the problems faced by women in abusive relationships because they become trapped with their abusers. In most cases when women decide to leave the toxic relationship, it results in their death and that is why so many just opt to stay. Gender-based violence, rape and femicide is a crisis that is tearing the country apart.

Just recently, we documented some traumatizing cases of gender-based violence that has been increasing on a daily basis across communities in South Africa:

· A 2-year-old girl was raped at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital while placed in isolation for COVID-19.

· Hlengiwe Msimango, a mother of two from Kempton Park, Gauteng, was shot dead by her partner because he had mistaken her for a burglar.

· Phumeza Pepeta, a 45 year old woman from Eastern Cape was shot dead by her ex-husband who had disguised himself as a woman at her father’s funeral in Nelson Mandela Bay on the 26th of July. Phumeza has had a restraining order against her ex-husband since 2018.

· Lesedi Mokgosi a 25-year-old teacher from Magong, North West was raped and murdered on the 29th of June. Lesedi was found with her hands and feet tied and was strangled to death. An arrest has been made.

The justice system is failing to end gender-based violence and the perpetrators are aware that whatever they do, they will get away with it. We call upon the government to take gender-based violence and femicide seriously and to establish measures to prevent, investigate and prosecute cases of violence against women and children in the country. The government should provide well- trained police officers who have zero tolerance for gender-based violence. The government should implement National Strategic Plan and partner with the Civil Society Organizations dealing with gender-based violence and provide them with appropriate tools and enough finance to sustain their work during this crisis. We encourage victims not to suffer in silence and report perpetrators to Law Enforcement Agencies. Civil Society Organisations should be encouraged to continue raising awareness and instil a culture of gender equality and protect human rights of women and promote women’s welfare. We want a society where women, children, and other vulnerable groups to live in a free society, without fear of either being abused or killed.

As we commemorate National Women’s Month, we encourage women to fight back and be reminded that they are warriors that ensured national commemoration of this legacy. Women’s month is an opportunity to reflect on women’s achievements, the struggles they faced and the important role they play in the society. Make no excuses or justification to compromise your worth as a woman. “Wathint Abafazi – wathinti – imbokodo” You strike a woman you strike a rock”. You are the universe, You are the fire and You are limitless!

HURISA is relaunching its hashtag campaign #HerVoice #HerPeace #SheMatters, to increase social cohesion and solidarity against GBV/FEMICIDE

HURISA is planning to host workshops to deepen a culture of respect on women, girls and the elderly to join hands to stop the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide. This will cover awareness raising, capacity building, reporting, monitoring for effective law enforcement to combat suspects responsible for atrocities of women, girls and the aged in our society.

Follow us on our reconstructed page #HerVoice #HerPeace # SheMatters

Also follow us on our twitter and facebook

We express our deepest condolences to the families that lost their beloved due to gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa. We also stand in solidarity for justice to all women and girls survivors of GBV and those facing arbitrary arrests, torture, cruel, inhuman treatment under the hand of law enforcement in South Africa and beyond.

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More than ever, people and countries everywhere rely on the United Nations to rise to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic – a human crisis. The Secretary-General has emphasized that the creativity of the response must match the unique nature of the crisis – and the magnitude of the response must match its scale. Moving ahead on the Decade of Action for SDG implementation1, the recovery from the COVID-19 is an opportunity for governments and stakeholders alike to Build Back Better their societies. The SDG Acceleration Actions online database is a tool to help inspire and mobilize actions around the world to promote the implementation of the SDGs, as well as build resilience and bring inclusive recovery in the context of new realities post COVID-19, so that the global economy, planet and people we serve could emerge stronger together from the crisis.

HIGHLIGHTS As of 20 May 2020, a total of 151 Acceleration Actions have been published, including major commitments from Finland, United Kingdom and India. Actions submitted by a significant number of countries (79%) aim to address multiple SDGs leveraging interlinkages, while 21% of initiatives focus on addressing one SDG. Of the 147 registered actions, SDGs 16 and 17 have mobilized the largest number of actions, followed by SDGs 13, 8, 5 and 1. With regard to geographical location of initiatives, 41% of registered actions come from Europe; 20% from Latin American and the Caribbean; 13% from Asia and the Pacific; 11% from North America; 8% from Africa; and 4% from West Asia (Middle East).